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Atrophic Rhinitis
Bruce Lawhorn*


hinitis is an inflammation of the upper respiratory tract and is present to some degree in almost every commercial swine herd. This kind of inflammation can be caused by bacteria, viruses, chemicals (manure gas), dust, pollen, temperature fluctuations, and other irritants in the environment, and can have a negative impact on the affected pig’s feed-conversion efficiency and rate of gain. Atrophic rhinitis (AR) is the term commonly used to refer to the condition of a sneezing pig with a crooked, bleeding snout and tear-stained face. The term “atrophic” means that the turbinate bones inside the snout are shrunken and distorted. These bones are lined with mucous membranes and filter the air the pig inhales, and so they are vulnerable to irritation and infection by changes and contaminants in the environment. Atrophy of the turbinate bones without external signs, like a crooked nose, is called “turbinate atrophy.” Producers and veterinarians often refer to any or all of these conditions as atrophic rhinitis.

Bacterial Causes
Bordetella bronchioseptica was the first bacterium discovered to cause AR. More recently, Pasteurella multocida type D and type A, particularly those that produce type D and A toxins, respectively, have been identified as common causes of AR. When combinations of these bacteria infect a pig’s turbinate bones, severe AR can result.

Economic Losses
The economic effect of rhinitis, AR, and/or turbinate atrophy varies. Producers selling show or feeder pigs lose business or receive reduced prices when pigs have crooked or shortened snouts due to AR. In farrow-to-finish or finishing operations, producers report affected pigs grow at the same rate or more slowly than their penmates.

*Associate Professor and Extension Veterinarian, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System.

Texas Agricultural Extension Service • Zerle L. Carpenter, Director • The Texas A&M University System • College Station, Texas

Several evaluation methods can be used. scores ranging from 6 to 12 mm on each side indicate increasingly severe AR. has already occurred. this is probably related to the severity of AR and the pig’s environment. Visual inspection is another method of live-animal diagnosis. Atrophic rhinitis is more severe when various combinations of Bordetella bronchioseptica. Some data on group performance (average daily gain. Testing several animals in a group provides better results than testing a single animal. the effect becomes more severe.A mild amount of turbinate atrophy. Nasal septal deviation or asym- . Atrophic rhinitis pigs are not discriminated against in price at slaughter. and. and Pasteurella multocida serotype A. Live-Animal Diagnosis Veterinarians can diagnose bacterial rhinitis. in most slaughter checks conducted by veterinarians. Diagnosis at Slaughter A veterinarian can diagnose AR at slaughter by sawing across the snout and measuring from the bottom of each lower turbinate to the top of each inner-nasal cavity bone. As the environment worsens. As the degree of severity increases. toxin producer. Moderate to severe turbinate atrophy may cause an increased number of days for the hog to reach market weight (from several days up to several weeks). the opposite is seen. Atrophic Rhinitis-Pneumonia Relationship The idea that AR predisposes pigs to develop pneumonia is not necessarily true. decisions on whether or not to allow slightly affected AR animals to enter a herd should be based more on performance and health in the seller’s herd and knowledge of AR prevalence and performance in the buyer’s herd. viruses. However. Pasteurella multocida serotype D. Because live-animal diagnosis of AR is indefinite. but by that time any economic loss. The effect of humidity on the size of water droplets in the air determines whether inhaled droplets stop in the upper respiratory tract and cause rhinitis or reach the lungs to cause pneumonia. which act synergistically to cause clinical diseases. toxin producer. and dust that aggravate or cause rhinitis or pneumonia. These droplets can carry bacteria. Purchased breeding stock should be isolated before they are introduced into the herd so that obviously affected animals may be culled. After a group of snouts is measured. Purchased feeder and show pigs are also visually appraised for atrophic rhinitis. with or without snout deformity. the producer should be aware that even normal-appearing penmates could bring in AR. may not affect performance. In most evaluation systems. the average score is calculated to indicate approximate herd involvement. feed efficiency. feed-conversion efficiency tends to worsen. in terms of feed-conversion efficiency and pig growth performance. average days to market. and turbinate atrophy in live animals by swabbing the turbinate bones through the snout and and producing a bacterial culture. AR. Mixing swine from different sources also mixes infectious organisms. The cardinal rule in swine production of minimizing sources of breeding animals is extremely important in limiting economic loss from AR and other diseases. metry of the nasal cavity worsens an AR score. chemicals. Even so. but measurements of less than 5 to 6 mm (depending on the AR scoring system) on each side are considered normal. Feed-conversion efficiency in the affected pigs also varies. infect the turbinate bones. and/or the percentage of poor-doer pigs) are necessary for proper evaluation of ARrelated economic loss.

and environment modification have been used separately or together to control the clinical signs of AR. An obvious decrease in clinical signs. bronchioseptica vaccine. Vaccinate sows prefarrowing and pigs preweaning. correcting the environment alone may give as good a response as vaccination with environment correction. a modified-live. but must be interpreted in the context of herd performance. because the breeding herd develops a natural immunity and. however. multocida type D toxin or P. after the use of antibacterial therapy in young pigs may strongly suggest AR as the diagnosis. plus toxoids to P. vaccination may not be cost-effective. bronchioseptica and P. vaccination. Pneumonia is not usually the result of AR. MAXI/GUARD Nasal Vac by Addison Biological Laboratory (816-2482215). Swabbing the turbinates in the live animal and culturing are used to diagnose bacterial AR. Combination vaccines such as bacterin/ toxoids may furnish superior protection in severely affected herds. 1-800-328-0237) and NOBLVAC-DART® by NOBL Laboratories (may order direct 800-323-7527). It is approved to be administered intranasally to day-old piglets. P.Treatment and Prevention Elimination or prevention of all turbinate atrophy and/or AR in a commercial herd is neither cost-effective nor realistic. multocida types D and A toxins may be used. Vaccination may be indicated to control AR in some herds. is one example. Mild AR may not affect pig performance. Before using an intranasal AR vaccine. intranasal B. Excellent combination bacterin/ toxoids that are now available include Score™ by Oxford Labs (available through a veterinarian. but moderate to severe AR is associated with reduced growth rate and worsened feed-conversion efficiency. The bacteria in Nasal Vac colonize the piglets’ turbinate bones. bronchioseptica vaccines are also available for use. bronchioseptica should not be used at the time of injection with live vaccine. Live B. bronchioseptica. according to label instructions. Antibacterials in the feed or water. Antibacterials effective against B. a producer is not locked into continual vaccine use. as a result. Many approaches to treatment and . the severity of AR in the herd decreases. Vaccination of feeder pigs may be too late to be effective. the effectiveness of AR vaccines is usually poor. In many cases. With uncorrected environmental problems. One concern about the bacteria in live intranasal AR vaccines is “reversion to virulence”—meaning that they may change back to a diseasecausing state. multocida type D and type A. injections of antibiotics. Vaccines containing killed B. blocking the attachment of harmful B. consult a veterinarian for advice on vaccine use. A good health program. Visual inspection is also used to diagnose AR in live animals. For this reason. Summary Atrophic rhinitis is a common and complex disease syndrome with varying terminology to describe varying degrees of severity. multocida bacteria. But when vaccination gives a good response. such as sneezing. Post-mortem diagnosis of AR is well defined.Vaccines containing killed bacteria and toxoids are called bacterin/ toxoids. can greatly reduce the effect of this disease. When young pigs are exposed to fewer organisms. ask the company to provide research data indicating that reversion to virulence is unlikely. the number of organisms spreading from sow to pig decreases over time. Tests on several animals in a herd provide more accurate information than a test on an individual. Since each herd situation may vary considerably.

prevention of AR are available. The Texas A&M University System. AS 7 . Mengeling. Zerle L. and June 30. West Lafayette. Texas Agricultural Extension Service. M. religion. G. in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture. disability. as amended. Revision VM. but proper management of the pig’s environment is paramount to the success of any approach.M. Daniel.E. B. color.F. A... W. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work in Agriculture and Home Economics. “Atrophic Rhinitis. 1992. Ames.L. The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Cooperative Extension Service is implied. 1979-96.. 1914. (eds): Diseases of Swine. 1M—6-96.D. Educational programs of the Texas Agricultural Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race. 7th edition. Indiana. For More Information DeJong..E. 1914. 1992. “Atrophic Rhinitis. Straw.” In Leman. Pork Industry Handbook. Director. Iowa State University Press. et al. age or national origin. sex. Selected Articles in Proceedings of the American Association of Swine Practitioners.” PIH 50. Straw B. Carpenter. Purdue University. Cooperative Extension Service. Iowa.. Acts of Congress of May 8.